Thursday, December 14, 2017

Technology and Digital Media Driving Consumer Experience- ‘What was’ Versus ‘What is’ of Customer Service

By Rinku Basu

Over the past few years, customer services have been taken to astonishingly new heights. ‘Meeting expectation’ is no good anymore, surpassing expectation is the only modus operandi for existence. To our advantage, with the advent of digital technologies and social media, reaching out to the consumer market and creating a positive brand experience has become less strenuous. Gone are the days when customer service was about greetings and saying nice words. It is a passé and redundant. Companies are exploiting digital technologies to re-imagine how can they deliver consistent value every time to their customers. Uber, Amazon and likes have raised the standards to a level which is making the industry think hard and get deeper into understanding how to enhance consumer experience with the use of technology.

Brand experience is delivered through multiple hands- The production unit, employees, the store, Sales staff, Customer service team etc. Your reputation is always in the hands of these ‘so many people’ at all levels spread out geographically. That makes it an arduous task to maintain and deliver consistent quality and experience. Use of technology has the promise to achieve the consistency that the customers crave for. Consumers get what they want. The push is on companies to ensure that the process of delivering customer experience is not left to employees but is supported in the back-end with lot more technology, lot more thought, and a lot more processes.

Some companies have taken it seriously and exploited the medium- it is helping them scale and deliver standardized services. Yet several more are left somewhere in between. Over the next two to five years we will see this stabilizing significantly. Best practices will evolve consuming unprecedented budgets to build systems, workflows and staff trainings. An even bigger investment is going to be in the process of making your staff unlearn.

Let us take a closer look at it with an example to understand this better. If a car owner need spare parts- the provider will be differentiated by the speed at which it can deliver the same, how quickly can it be replenished. Here we realize the strength of integrated supply chain. If the manufacturer can ensure that the parts are available as soon as it is asked for- it will enhance the experience tremendously. That’s the code that online retailers have been able to crack and addressing the age-old pain areas.

Look at ‘what was’ and ‘what is’. When the buying choice was dependent on advertisements and word of mouth, we did not have comparatives or access to customer reviews. Now that all of this is available, it opens up a whole new plethora of choices with real-time consumer feedback. Review forums are shifting the brand focus from being everywhere to focus on delivering brand experience through the consumer group consistently. All of this is pushing companies towards a changed mindset, different workflows, strengthened back-end processes enabling a lot of data/ reviews for consumers and deliver an experience that stays. Companies need to be on the ground to understand what is needed, put that back in the system, exploit the power of technology and achieve the desired consistency in it’s services.

Rinku Basu - Management professional, art enthusiast, blogger, thinker, dreamer, non- conformist, social misfit, forever joyful.

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